Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern

Season 1 Episode 5

Gulf Coast

Aired Monday 10:00 PM Mar 26, 2007 on Travel Channel

Episode Recap

Andrew is home in the United States, traveling along the rim of the Gulf Coast from Morgan City, Louisiana to Pensacola, sampling examples of "soul food" as well as Cajun and Creole cooking. Despite the hurricane damage, he considers New Orleans a food Mecca and one of his first stops is to sample the meat of the nutria. Nutria are large rodents once sold in the area for their fur, but several of them escaped into the wild and prospered, becoming a problem for farmers. The hunting of them is encouraged. Edmond Moulton of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Farming introduces Andrew to Sterling Fryou, a nutria hunter with a Cajun accent. Fryou uses the hunting methods of his father and grandfather to catch the pests and usually catches eight to twelve of them at a time. He skins them on the boat, and cooks them at home with homemade roux, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, a bit of pepper and anything else he has. Andrew comments the meat tastes as if a rabbit mated with a chicken and had a baby; it's very lean and clean. He also samples squirrel.
Andrew takes his time driving through, commenting that Cajun food is more about the style than the ingredients. In Maurice, Louisiana, he finds Hebert's Specialty Meats, a family run business known for a dish called turducken, chicken inside a duck inside a turkey with stuffing. Andrew times Sammy Hebert in the time he takes to debone the three; just under six minutes. The stuffing is a homemade corn blend sewn up inside the turducken. Andrew samples the dish at Soop's Restaurant run by Sammy's sisters, Sharon and Phyllis. He also samples beef tongue and boudin with Cajun sauce. Sammy joins him for the boudin – pork meat, bell peppers, seasoning, green onions and rice in a sausage casing, one of Andrew's favorite dishes.
In New Orleans, Andrew meets up with Donald Link, chef and co-owner of the Cochon Restaurant. Andrew adds that "cochon" is French for "pig." The food is highly seasoned and made with everything available. Andrew is joined by dining columnist and restaurant critic Brett Anderson, giving him anonymity by not showing his face on camera. They have a dinner of boudin balls, minus the casing, rice and pork intestines of regular boudin. The rest of the dinner includes smoked ham hocks, goat cheese and fried chicken livers, not favored by a lot of people. Andrew comments that goat cheese is just jellied meat with extra stuff in it. Upon leaving, Brett comments about Andrew's "hollow legs."
Onward to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the home of soul food such as collard greens, ham hocks and raccoon and opossum meat, Andrew is onward to Leatha's Bar-B-Que recommended to him by chef and restaurateur Robert St. John. They are served by Bonnie Jackson, niece of Leatha Jackson, the owner of the restaurant. The dishes include raccoon and opossum meat. Andrew considers the raccoon like the dark meat of turkey while the opossum is rich but with a faint gamey taste. Andrew is soon off to the roadside Serendipity Deli and Restaurant created by former sheriff Joel Simpson, for fried chitlins made from pig intestines cleaned with a water hose.
Andrew is soon in Mobile, Alabama, the original home of Mardi Gras, and Wintzell's Oyster House and Restaurant. The walls are covered in the sayings and quotes of the restaurant's founder and first owner. Bob Omainsky, the president of the place, invites Andrew to a dinner of fried dill pickles and fried green tomatoes with crawfish sauce, but he also can't help but try Wintzel's oyster eating-eating challenge. Andrew has to break the record in an hour or else pay for the plate. Andrew considers it easy at first, trying a little cheating, but he soon finds it's not so easy after all. The restaurant goes through 35,000 pounds of oysters a day, and Russell, his oyster-shucker can chuck them out faster than Andrew can eat them. Andrew gets as far as thirty-three and quits, seemingly ducking out on the bill as Russell calls him a Yankee. After a detour through Alligator Alley to meet alligator trappers Wesley and Darryl Moore, Andrew is off to meet Robert Yarbrough and Will Easterling of the Wash House Restaurant for a sampling of alligator meat, a dish slowly gaining popularity. Andrew has alligator wings, alligator spring rolls and alligator ribs.
Andrew finally reaches the tourist town of Pensacola, Florida; the town is also a military town because of three nearby military sites and a place known for seafood. The owner of the Fish House Restaurant, John Shirley, takes Andrew out fishing for grouper, bringing him back for fried grouper throats and gazpacho salad. Made with hardtack, the salad is so good that Andrew takes the larger portion. Andrew is also offered to try mullet, a bottom feeder fish, caught by a local ladies fishing team called the Fishin' Chicks. Andrew is amused by their tenacity, but he's then off to Chet's Restaurant, owned by Randy Sanders, the son of its founder. The sign identifying the place is gone, but everyone knows where it is. Andrew joins regulars Doris and Jean for the fried fish tail, which is like a potato chip, but he soon finds the fried mullet gizzard and the ferociously yellow fried roe an acquired taste. After musing in the dishes and charming his guests, Andrew is off to reflect on the dishes and plan his next trip.